Station history

This station was originally established in 1837.  It appears to have lapsed about 1855 and was re-opened in 1874.

1841

Gold Medal awarded to Mr Charles Steel, Inspecting Commander of Coastguard and Silver Medals to William Rowe, Patrick O'Niell, James Hyde and Barnard Hicks for the rescue by the lifeboat of four people from the Steam Packet Thames wrecked on the western rocks in very heavy seas and a severe westerly gale on 4 January.

1874

Lifeboat house constructed at a cost of £260.

1879

Launching was a long and tedious operation requiring 30 helpers besides the crew.

1889

Decided that lifeboat should be moored in harbour.

1899

Constructed new lifeboat house and slipway at a cost of £1,500 at Caen Thomas.  Old lifeboat house sold for £40.

1902

Slipway extended 40 feet.

1914

Lifeboat house adapted for first motor lifeboat at a cost of £3,155.  Red Star Line donated £105 as a token of their gratitude for the services rendered by the lifeboat to the liner Gothland on 23 June.

1919

First motor lifeboat sent to station.

1920

Fishing boat Gladys wrecked with the loss of two men, both sons of the lifeboat coxswain.

1921

HRH Prince of Wales inspected the crew and afterwards went float in the lifeboat.

German Government expressed thanks to the crew for the rescue of 24 crew of the German ship Hathor of Hamburg on 2 December 1920.

1927

Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Matthew Lethbridge, Bronze Medals to Second Coxswain James T Lethbridge, elder brother of the coxswain, Motor Mechanic J H Rokahr and Doctor W W Ivers who went out in the lifeboat which saved four lives, Silver Medal to Mr Charles Jenkins and a Bronze Medal to Mr E R Jenkins who went out in the motor boat Sunbeam and rescued three men using Sunbeams dinghy, Sunbeam herself saved nine, and Bronze Medals to Mr William E Jenkins who was in charge of the open boat Czar which rescued 15 lives, and to Mr Ernest Jenkins who was in charge of the motor boat Ivy which saved one man, for a dangerous and gallant service to the Italian steamer Isabo which ran ashore in dense fog on the Scilly rock on 27 October 1927 in the course of which 32 lives were rescued out of Isabo's crew of 38.  The Sunbeam, Czar and Ivy were all from Bryher.  The Italian Government awarded four Silver and 34 Bronze Medals for this service.

1934

Bronze Medal awarded to Acting Coxswain Harry Barratt who was in charge of the lifeboat for the first time for a fine service to the schooner Myonie R Kirby that had broken her tow from a Dutch tug and was drifting in a strong south-easterly gale on 28 November 1933.  Owing to the mass of wreckage it was impossible for the lifeboat to get alongside and a line was fired.  In this way a buoy was got across to her.  In spite of all difficulties the six men on the schooner and their dog were rescued.

1937

A Centenary Vellum awarded to station.

1945

Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Coxswain Matthew Lethbridge and Second Coxswain James T Lethbridge for their fine seamanship in the rescue of a salvage party of 15 of the American Liberty Ship Jonas Lie on 12 January.  She had been torpedoed three days before and had been taken in tow by a tug but she had slipped her tow and was drifting helplessly.

1955

Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain Matthew Lethbridge for the rescue of the crew of 25 by Jacobs ladder, of the Panamanian steamer Mando that went ashore between Manavaur Rock and Gold Ball Rock on 21 January 1955 in dense fog and a moderate west-north-westerly wind.

1956

New Coxswain Matthew Lethbridge Jnr, appointed 1 July, the son of former Coxswain Matthew Lethbridge who acted as second coxswain and coxswain from 1920-1956 and was awarded a Silver Medal 1927 and a Bronze Medal 1955.

1967

A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution was sent to the coxswain and crew for services rendered to the tanker Torrey Canyon of Monrovia, which went aground on the Seven Stones on 18 March.  The coxswain and crew were also granted additional monetary awards.  The crew of the Torrey Canyon gave a donation towards the cost of erecting a plaque in the boathouse expressing their appreciation for the help given.

1967

Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Matthew Lethbridge Jnr, Bronze Medals to Second Coxswain Ernest Guy and Motor Mechanic William Burrow and the Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum were accorded to the remainder of the crew for rescuing the crew of 19 and saving the yacht Braemar, which had developed a serious leak 28 miles from Bishop Rock on 22/23 May.  The yacht was carrying an ITN television crew to record the arrival of Francis Chichester on Gypsy Moth.

1970

Silver Second-Service Clasp to Coxswain Matthew Lethbridge Jnr, Bronze Second-Service Clasps to Second Coxswain Ernest Guy and Motor Mechanic William Burrow and the Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum were accorded to the remainder of the crew for the rescue of 10 people from the Swedish motor vessel Nordanhav listing heavily in a gale force west by southerly wind and a very rough sea on the morning of 21 February.

1972

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Coxswain Matthew Lethbridge when the lifeboat under his command saved the yacht Moronel and the crew of two 15 miles south easterly of St Mary’s in a north-easterly gale and a very rough sea on 11 March.  Similar recognition was made to crew member Rodney Terry who, at considerable risk to his own safety, jumped from the lifeboat to the yacht Moronel to help the crew who were in difficulties.

1975

Matthew Lethbridge Jnr awarded BEM in New Year's Honours List.

1977

The Silver Third-Service Clasp awarded to Coxswain Matthew Lethbridge BEM in recognition of the courage, determination and seamanship displayed by him when the lifeboat under his command made repeated attempts to reach the crew on board the French trawler Enfant de Bretagne which eventually broke up after being stranded on a rock about two miles east-south-east of the Bishop Rock Lighthouse and then searched for survivors amongst many uncharted rocks in a fresh south westerly wind and very heavy swell in the darkness of the early hours of 13 February.  The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum were accorded to the other members of the crew.

1979

A special framed certificate awarded to the coxswain and crew for display at the station in recognition of their services in connection with numerous yachts in difficulties during the Fastnet Race on 14 August.

1982

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Coxswain Matthew Lethbridge BEM in recognition of the skill and determination displayed by him, when the lifeboat Robert Edgar rescued the crew of two of the yacht Concherto which was in difficulties 25 miles north-north-east of Round Island in a south-south-westerly storm, high seas and very heavy rain squalls on 22 June.

1983

The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum accorded to Coxswain Matthew Lethbridge BEM in recognition of the determination and seamanship displayed by him, when the lifeboat Sir Max Aitken on temporary duty at St Marys, rescued six people from the water approximately three miles east by north of Penninnis Head on 16 July after a helicopter had crashed in dense fog and dangerous waters.

1985

Matthew (Matt) Lethbridge retired on 20 January, having served nearly 40 years in the St Marys lifeboats, the last 29 as coxswain.

1987

A 150th Anniversary Vellum awarded to station.

1993

Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain Barry Bennett in recognition of his outstanding courage, skill and seamanship when the lifeboat Robert Edgar rescued the sole occupant of the yacht Bacarole, which was swamped by heavy seas in very shallow waters of Porth Cressa Bay on 12 September 1993.  The lone yachtsman had anchored in the bay, but in winds gusting to Force 9 and breaking seas was soon in difficulties.  After several attempts the lifeboat closed the casualty and the survivor was hauled onboard just as the yacht was engulfed by waves and sank.

1997

New Severn class lifeboat ON1229 The Whiteheads placed on service on 1 December.

2004

Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain Andrew Howells and crew members Mark Bromham and Philip Roberts for the rescue of an injured man from a disabled yacht on 29 October 2003.  The rescue took place in north westerly force 8 winds 12 metre seas some 40 miles from station.  As crew member Mark Bromham transferred to the yacht, he got caught on a stanchion and only prompt action by the coxswain at the lifeboats controls and the helicopter crew men already aboard the yacht saved him.  Petty Officer Air Crewman David Rigg and Leading Crewman Graham Hatch, who had been winched to the yacht by RN helicopter R193 were both accorded The Thanks of the Institute inscribed on Vellum.  The Shipwrecked Fishermen & Mariners Royal Benevolent Society awarded Coxswain Howells The Lady Swaything Trophy for 2003 for this service.

MEDAL RECORD

Twenty-six medals have been awarded to the men of the St Mary’s lifeboat for gallantry one Gold, nine Silver and 16 Bronze, the last being voted in 2004.